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Top 10 Career Fields in America: What You Should Know

Top 10 Career Fields in America: What You Should Know

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It’s never too early to start thinking about your future career, even in high school! Start with our list of the top 10 career fields in the United States.

Even if you’re still in high school, it’s never too early to start thinking about your future career! Knowing what field you may want to go into will help you foster skills that will benefit you when you get to college. But which career path is right for you?

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Aside from your passions and skills, it’s important to consider the state of the industry you’re interested in pursuing. Will demand for roles grow?

Is the pay adequate? To help you get started, here’s an overview of each of the top 10 career fields in the United States, designated based on their employment growth rate and/or higher-than-average salaries.

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1. Health care

Health care jobs are always in demand. They’re projected to grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028, which means roughly 1.9 million new positions. That’s a hefty increase, especially considering it’s expected to outpace job growth in any other field during that period.

Possible roles 

  • Registered nurse
  • Doctor
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Physical therapist
  • Dietician

Salary

Working in health care can be fulfilling and financially rewarding. In May 2020, the median annual wage for roles like registered nurses, physicians, surgeons, and dental hygienists was $69,870.

Education requirements

Certain health care careers, like nursing, may only necessitate a bachelor’s degree. However, professions such as doctors and nurse practitioners call for advanced degrees, along with extra professional training and licensing.

2. Education

Are you drawn to teaching? Education, much like health care, remains indispensable. Jobs in education, training, and library occupations are expected to increase by 5% from 2018 to 2028, resulting in around 512,900 new positions. Enrollments are anticipated to rise in colleges, universities, public elementary, and secondary schools. This surge in demand means that not only postsecondary teachers but also preschool, elementary, and secondary school teachers will be sought after.

Possible roles

  • Teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Special educator
  • School principal

Salary

In May 2020, the median pay for elementary school teachers was $60,940, while high school teachers earned $62,870. During the same period, school principals received an average salary of $98,490.

Education requirements

Teachers, administrators, and other education professionals typically require either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, depending on the specific role they aspire to.

3. Information technology

Those labeled as “computer nerds” are undoubtedly getting the last laugh. The information technology (IT) sector is already vast, and it’s still expanding. Jobs in computer and information technology fields are expected to grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028, a rate much faster than the average for all other occupations, resulting in approximately 546,200 new positions. Given the growing focus on cloud computing, big data, and information security, it’s not surprising that the demand for IT professionals is on the rise.

Possible roles

  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Software developer
  • Web developer

Salary

The median annual wage for computer and information technology roles was $91,250 in May 2020.

Education requirements

The educational prerequisites for IT professionals differ depending on the industry and work environment they aim for. For instance, cybersecurity analysts typically require at least a bachelor’s degree. While most database administrators hold a bachelor’s degree, certain industries with extensive databases might prefer or even mandate applicants to possess a master’s degree.

4. Business 

Business majors acquire a diverse set of skills and knowledge that equip them to make substantial contributions to both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. They excel in quantifying data, assessing the financial ramifications of decisions, and substantiating their proposals with numerical evidence—they essentially think in numbers. The employment outlook for business and financial operations occupations is promising, with a projected growth of 7% from 2018 to 2028, resulting in approximately 591,800 new job opportunities.

Possible roles

  • Business operations manager
  • Compliance officer
  • HR manager
  • Management analyst

Salary

The median annual wage for business-related roles was $72,250 in May 2020.

Education requirements 

Many business positions require college, graduate, and sometimes postgraduate school. For some roles, specific professional licenses are also required.

5. Finance

Money is a universal concern—some have plenty, others not so much, but everyone needs a bank account and must navigate taxes, among other financial responsibilities. Financial professionals play a crucial role by conducting analyses and providing advice or assistance in managing money. Accountants and auditors, in particular, are in high demand, with the most projected job openings annually from 2016 to 2026. In 2020 alone, there were over 1,392,200 accounting positions available.

Possible roles 

  • Accountant
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Financial planner
  • Loan officer

Salary

The median annual wage for financial roles was $72,250 in May 2020.

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Education requirements 

Roles in finance such as accountants, financial planners, and loan officers typically necessitate at least a bachelor’s degree. However, certain positions in finance may require an advanced degree and/or specific certifications.

6. Architecture and engineering

Architects are responsible for designing various structures, including hospitals, houses, and more, while engineers utilize science and mathematics to design, construct, and upkeep structures and systems. It’s anticipated that approximately 113,300 new jobs will be added to the architectural and engineering fields by 2028.

Possible roles

  • Architect
  • Cartographer and photogrammetrist
  • Civil engineer
  • Environmental engineer

Salary

In May 2020, the median annual wage for roles in architecture and engineering was $83,160.

Education requirements

Numerous positions in architecture and engineering typically mandate at least a bachelor’s degree. For instance, civil engineers usually require only a bachelor’s degree, but to qualify for senior roles, they’ll need a graduate degree and professional licensing.

7. Advertising, promotions, and marketing

These professionals assess the demand for products and services, cultivate interest among potential buyers, and perform various other tasks. Employment for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is expected to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028, a rate faster than the average for other occupations.

Possible roles

  • Advertising manager
  • Brand manager
  • Digital media director
  • Promotions coordinator

Salary

Managerial roles are highly coveted in this sector due to their lucrative compensation. In May 2020, the median annual wage for advertising and promotions managers was $133,460, while marketing managers earned an average of $142,170.

Education requirements

For most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions, a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite. However, certain upper management roles may necessitate a master’s degree or MBA.

8. Social services

Social service professions are ideal for those who aspire to assist and foster healing and well-being in others. The employment outlook for social service careers is promising, with an expected growth of 11% from 2018 to 2028, significantly outpacing the average for all professions. This growth is anticipated to result in approximately 306,200 new job opportunities.

Possible roles

  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • School psychologist
  • Social worker

Salary

The median annual wage for community and social service jobs was $47,520 in May 2020.

Education requirements

While some social workers may only require a bachelor’s degree, clinical social workers must hold a master’s degree, complete two years of supervised clinical experience, and obtain a state-issued license to practice.

9. Mathematics

If math is your passion, consider a career in mathematics! Employment opportunities for mathematicians and statisticians are on the rise, with a projected growth of 30% from 2018 to 2028—much faster than other professions. Statistical analysis plays a crucial role in making informed business decisions across various industries. Additionally, with the increasing prevalence of online business transactions, organizations require skilled mathematics professionals to analyze vast amounts of data.

Possible roles

  • Actuary
  • Economist
  • Mathematician
  • Statistician

Salary

The median pay for mathematicians was $110,860 in May 2020, while statisticians earned around $92,270.

Education requirements

Certain entry-level positions in mathematics, like actuaries, may only necessitate a bachelor’s degree. However, mathematicians and statisticians typically require a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics. On the other hand, most economists require a master’s degree or PhD.

10. Science

Are you passionate about research, exploration, and innovation? If so, a career in the sciences might be perfect for you! Employment opportunities for life, physical, and social science professions are expected to increase by 7% from 2018 to 2028, leading to approximately 97,400 new jobs.

Possible roles

  • Biochemist or biophysicist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Geoscientist
  • Nuclear technician

Salary

The median annual wage for these types of science occupations was $69,760 in May 2020.

Education requirements

The educational requirements for working in the field of science vary depending on the specific branch and role pursued. Biochemists and biophysicists typically need a PhD, while epidemiologists generally require a master’s degree, although some may hold a doctoral degree in Epidemiology or Medicine. Geoscientists typically require at least a bachelor’s degree. Nuclear technicians, on the other hand, only need an associate degree, but some opt to pursue a four-year degree nonetheless.

Here you have it—the top 10 career fields in the United States right now, along with potential roles, average salaries, and education requirements! We hope this information assists you in charting a career path that excites you. Special thanks to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for providing all this valuable data, and best of luck with your major and college search!

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